Cost of Bariatric Surgery

The cost of bariatric surgery is a significant financial consideration for many individuals. In the United States, the average cost of lap band surgery is $17,000 to $30,000 and the average cost of gastric bypass surgery is $20,000 to $35,000. Based on those numbers, it is easy to see that the cost can vary greatly, but also that it is a substantial amount of money.

There are many factors which affect the total price of bariatric surgery, including the choice of:

  • Geographic location of the treatment center
  • Type of bariatric surgery performed
  • Bariatric surgeon experience
  • Level of post-op treatment

Bariatric Surgeon Fees: Cost vs. Experience

One of the primary factors affecting the cost of bariatric surgery is the fee paid to the bariatric surgeon. Although skilled and experienced bariatric surgeons will usually cost more than surgeons who have less experience, training and ability, they will also have less surgical complications and better surgical outcomes.

A bariatric surgeon who has received both extensive training and a wide range of surgical experience is better qualified and more likely to be prepared to handle any unforeseen situations which may occur during surgery. When choosing a bariatric surgeon, it is important to consider more than cost; take into account the level of experience and results of prior patients when making your decision.

Comparing Prices for Bariatric Surgery

The amount of surgery will vary from patient to patient, there is not one "right" price to pay for any type of bariatric procedure. From pre-op tests to post-op care, there are many expenses which determine the overall cost of bariatric surgery. When comparing prices, it is important to consider all relevant fees and potential expenses. Some bariatric providers will offer an all inclusive-price package, while others will bill expenses separately. It is important to find out what fees are included in the quoted price and which ones are billed separately.

When comparing prices, relevant fees to consider are:

  • Surgeon fees
  • Hospital fees
  • Anesthesia fees
  • Pre-op lab test and x-ray fees
  • Travel expenses
  • Follow-up medical visits
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Exercise programs
  • Psychological counseling

Cost of Bariatric Pre-Surgery Tests

Pre-surgery tests are necessary to evaluate an individual's overall health and to establish medical necessity for bariatric surgery. If billed separately the pre-surgery tests average $1,000, but most times the cost is included as part of a package price from the bariatric surgeon.

Some of the more common pre-surgery tests are:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest x-rays
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiograph (EKG)
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Screening for sleep apnea

U.S. Bariatric Surgeries

Number of US Bariatric Surgeries by Year
Source: American Society for Bariatric Surgery

Financing Bariatric Surgery

Individuals who do not have insurance coverage or cash to pay for bariatric surgery, may be able to afford the procedure with installment payments. Although most bariatric surgeons require payment before surgery, they can usually refer prospective bariatric patients to medical financing companies that offer medical loans so that the individual can make payments over time.

Bariatric Surgery Insurance Coverage

Many insurance companies will cover the cost of bariatric surgery if the patient qualifies for surgery and can establish medical necessity. Before surgery, the patient should submit a request for pre-approval with the proper documentation to the insurance company as outlined in the benefits contract. Most bariatric surgeons are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and will assist patients with the insurance approval process.